Al Azhar rejects Egyptian minister’s veil comments
CAIRO • Al Azhar University, the preeminent academic institution in the Sunni Muslim world, repudiated Egypt’s culture minister yesterday for objecting to the growing practice of women wearing the veil.
The university “forcefully rejects the remarks regarding women’s veils, which have been a divine order according to the Holy Quran and the consensus among Muslims for 14 centuries,” the statement said.
“This matter is one of the givens of Islam and must not be subject to debate. Those who question it are not qualified to understand fiqh (Muslim jurisprudence) and have no right to lead people astray.”
In an interview published last week, Culture Minister Faruq Hosni said he saw the growing number of Muslim women wearing the veil in Egypt as a negative trend. “There was an age when our mothers went to university and worked without the veil. It is in that spirit that we grew up. So why this regression?” he asked.
“Each woman with her beautiful hair is like a flower, and should not be concealed from the view of others,” Hosni added, saying “religion today focuses on appearances too much.” Furore over his remarks escalated into a fully fledged crisis this week.
Some 800 students, mainly veiled women and supporters of the opposition Islamist movement, demonstrated in the Upper Egyptian city of Minya to demand Hosni’s immediate sacking.
Yesterday, following weekly prayers, another 2,000 people demonstrated at the university in protest. Hosni has also been criticised by the Muslim Brotherhood and by members of his own National Democratic Party, but many intellectuals have accused the regime of trying to gag the Egyptian people and stop them from thinking.